Reducing the number of “alternative level of care” (ALC) patients in a hospital may have unintended consequences.
Robert Biron, CEO of the Cobourg’s Northumberland Hills Hospital, told the Central East LHIN yesterday that his current operating deficit may be partially linked to the hospital’s success in reducing the number of ALC patients from a high of 36.8 per cent in December 2010 to a low of 2 per cent in June of this year.
Alternate level of care patients are those who have completed their acute care treatment at the hospital but are not well enough to return home. Wait lists for long-term care beds and home care services have left many hospitals without an ability to responsibly discharge these patients.
Biron says filling the former ALC beds with high acuity patients requires more resources, not less, including advanced nursing care. These are additional costs to the hospital in a year when base budgets are frozen.